'I was forced to hunt Jews', claims terror trial wife
She was the victim of three unlucky marriages to a rapist, a serial adulterer and, most recently, a self-declared terrorist. That is how the woman accused of plotting to blow up Jews in Manchester with her husband began her first evidence in court this week.
The defence opened on day 10 of the terror trial at Manchester Crown Court, which alleges that Shasta Khan, 38, from Oldham, used her hairdressing business as a front to make bombs and seek Jewish targets as part of a personal jihad.
Mrs Khan had sat expressionless through days of prosecution evidence. But giving evidence on Tuesday, the she looked nervous, handcuffed twice and accompanied by two prison officers to the witness box.
She told how, as a teenager, she had been sent to Pakistan by her family in a forced marriage after her younger sister was caught with a boyfriend. Her marriage ended after repeated rapes, she said. A second marriage had ended when her new husband left her after he had four affairs, leading her into depressions and strained relationships, the court heard.
Mrs Khan told how her depression was relieved by a return to faith, including Muslim prayer five times a day.
It was a return to faith that assisted finding her latest husband in 2010, Mohammed Sajid Khan, who has pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and to three counts of owning prohibited terrorist material. Mrs Khan denies the same charges.
But this marriage, in which the couple changed their dress from Western to tradition Muslim garb and head coverings, turned sour the morning after their wedding day, Mrs Khan claimed.
“He would call me all sorts of names, dumb bitch, slag, prostitute…He would threaten me, punch his hands together and say this is what I will do to you,” she said. Mrs Khan also claimed he forced her to do sexual acts.
On Tuesday morning during the presentation of evidence by the prosecution, tapes were played of Mrs Khan’s police interrogation. She had been asked why her SatNav had Jewish roads, the Jewish Agency and a house labelled “HQ” set as favourite locations.
She answered: “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember.”
When officers quizzed her about the dozens of extremist DVDs and CDs on jihad and terrorism, including chemical weapons, found in her car and bedroom, she was heard to say: “It was a mistake. I asked my husband to copy them for me.”
On Wednesday, Mrs Khan claimed she had been violently forced by her husband to make car journeys around Prestwich and Jewish areas. “On the first trip to Manchester, he grabbed my head and smashed it on the dashboard. I was too scared to say anything.”
The case continues.